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Brussels wants to ban the sale of straws, plates and plastic cutlery

The European Commission has presented a plan to end the pollution that causes

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Brussels wants to ban the sale of straws, plates and plastic cutlery

There are battles that are fought even if y are lost in advance. Every once in a while news talks about hundreds of kilos or tons of plastic removed by a group of volunteers on a beach. In Almuñécar. In La Graciosa. In Cartagena. In Pontevedra. These are just some of last year's cases on Spanish coast. It's ungrateful work. A few weeks or months later, sea spits plastic again with equal or greater intensity. And again gloved volunteers return to arena to set aside a tiny part of what floats in oceans. Brussels wants to tackle problem by going to its root. The European Commission has presented on Monday a plan to prohibit sale of certain disposable plastic products. An ambitious proposal that would imply disappearance of shelves of straws, plates and plastic cutlery to be replaced by ir equivalents made of sustainable materials. For idea to materialize, it must first be supported by Parliament and Member States, a support that Brussels hopes to obtain before European elections in May next year.

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The exit of supermarkets of se products will have an economic impact for manufacturers companies, but Commission considers that its benefits for environment or tourism justify broadly new restrictions. "Plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans and our food," warned vice President Frans Timmermans. The presence of a bottle of plastic water from lectern in which it was explained to journalists has attracted ir attention. "It is a sign that re is much more to be done in Commission," he said in midst of his speech.

Brussels has put focus on most present products in oceans. Toger with aforementioned, he proposes banning cotton swabs — except for those that are used for medical reasons — sticks to remove drinks and sticks to hold balloons. This is not to imply that se products have to cease to exist, but that manufacturers must opt for or materials that are less damaging to environment. Plastic can take several centuries to decompose, it encourages m to accumulate in oceans and beaches around world and are, in many cases, ingested by turtles, seals, whales, birds, and also by fish that n go into food chain, with consequences For human health.

The proposal is less restrictive for or single-use plastic products, but it also includes new obligations for manufacturers of food containers, glasses, bottles, bags, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, wet wipes and balloons. All of m must cover a part of costs of cleaning waste, promote recycling wherever possible and participate in awareness-raising campaigns. In case of food containers, y will only be allowed if design allows lids and caps to remain attached to container during use.

The message from Brussels is clear: it is necessary to reduce presence of plastic waste. The initiative urges European partners to set limits on use of food and beverage containers to reduce ir use, sets m goal of collecting 90% of plastic bottles at 2025, and requires that in labelling of wet wipes and or sanitary products The consumers are informed of ir impact on environment and where y should be dumped.

The plan is also aimed at manufacturers of fishing tackle, which account for 27% of waste that appears on beaches, to assume part of costs of ir collection in ports, and of transport and subsequent treatment.

The Commission has supported broad citizen support to reduce presence of plastic that Eurobarometer collects. Also in multiple data that warn of consequences of not acting. The Joint Research centre of European Commission (known as JRC) carried out in 2016 a complete analysis of rubbish of European beaches. The conclusion was that 84% of waste found was plastic. Anor study published in 2015 in Science quantified in eight million tons of plastics that end up in seas of planet every year as waste. Getting an idea of your volume is complicated. To illustrate this, Ellen MacArthur Foundation presented in 2016 at World Economic Forum held in Davos a statistic: If not acted, weight of plastic waste will be higher than that of all fish on planet in 2050.

Plastic pollution, mainly from seas, is one of environmental problems that international organizations are most concerned about at this time. Among or issues, by growth of its projected volume for coming decades. In 1950 plastic production around world was around 1.7 million tonnes. In 2016, according to data from PlasticsEurope, production reached 335 million tonnes. The problem lies not only in increase in production, but in short life cycle of many of products produced with this oil-derived material and low recycling figures. According to European Commission, only 30% of EU's plastic waste is collected for recycling.

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